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Thrift or keep: charity shops running out of stock?

About a week ago I was walking through ‘the village’. It isn’t a village at all; it is a prosperous and usually thriving suburb of one of the largest cities in the UK. Traditionally, ‘the village’ is one of the places in the city where relatively prosperous people live. A lot of the houses, our house included, were built at the beginning of the 20th century to provide accommodation for the professionals and managers of the nearby factories. After a brief period of downturn, in the 1980s the large houses around were bought by professionals and converted back into family accommodation. There used to be a joke that if a bomb were to fall on ‘the village’ the local universities will have to close. This probably was never entirely correct though. What is true is that when I first arrived in this city, during the recession of the late 80s and early 90s, someone told me that ‘the village’ is the only place in the city where real estate is still worth something. I believe that the situation at the moment is very similar; houses have held their value and some of them sell for a wagon load of money!

So you get the picture – overall prosperous place with nice houses and professional people. Probably suffices to mention that there we have close to fifty restaurants and coffee bars.

Imagine my surprise when walking around ‘the village’ the other day I saw large notices in the windows of the local charity shops. I took pictures, have a look – these are big notices screaming for stock. Last time my attention was drawn to the stock taking situation of the charity shops around here was because they refused couple of sack I took – had too much stock and no space to store it.

What could this mean? Here John and I did not agree. We came up with two different explanations. These are:

1)      These notices are signs of the hard economic times. Even relatively affluent people have changed/are changing their behaviour. They have stopped disposing of their clothes and other possessions by giving them to charity shops thus redistributing wealth. Also even affluent people have started visiting charity shops and shopping there more often.

2)      This has nothing to do with the economic situation. It is simply that there are several charity shops in ‘the village’ and they compete with each other for stock.

What do you reckon? Is this sign of the economic crisis or of healthy competition?

6 thoughts on “Thrift or keep: charity shops running out of stock?”

  1. I think scenario 1, we are getting more cash effective or making money where we can i havent seen any of them signs near me but i have to say of late that my facebook homepage is now covered with pictures of people selling items and clothes been some of them, not so long ago i would have bagged things up and taken to the charity shop however i found a little van that weighs your clothes and pays you so win win 🙂

  2. Definately scenario 1 – People are thinking more about buying or not, and as Happygirl says, you can sell the things we used to send to the charity shop, you don’t get a lot of money, but every penny counts if you are facing rising costs and static or decreasing income.

  3. Meant to add, there must be a lot of competition for the donations that are still made, since most small towns are over provided with charity shops. No one else can affort the Council Tax to run a small business.

  4. Same amount of Charity Shops as there has been here for years. The “big chains” are really struggling for donations and the “for local projects” one is simply buzzing. Seems like people are thinking more locally too and want the money to stay in their community and not disappear off onto a National Charity’s balance sheet.

  5. @Helen: Interesting! It looks like both John and I are right. It is competition but in times of plenty competition is about different level of distribution; in times of scarcity it is about ‘some have and others don’t’. Thanks, Helen!
    @Elaine Colliar: I didn’t see this one here but a very good point. In fact this may be one of the changes that will be very evident during the ‘second dip’ – localisation of the economy and more ‘moneyless’ exchanges.


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